by Amber Blevins
Class taught by Kim Dresher, APRN
Greater public awareness of the devastating consequences of domestic violence has caused alarm in the United States. The general consensus has been to stiffen criminal and domestic relations laws in an effort to curtail the violence and generate greater access to social services both public and private, affording victims a means to escape the abuse. The services available to domestic violence victims undergoing such a turbulent exodus are not as uniform as the laws in place to protect those victims, varying significantly by the communities in which they flee. As such, the concentration of this paper is on Mingo County, West Virginia because the author is a native of this community and currently resides just a few miles outside the city limits of Williamson, which is the county seat of Mingo. The author’s own experience, daily activities, close friends, and family are strongly tied to this community. The Tug Valley Recovery Shelter in Mingo County provides assistance to abused and battered women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. Therefore, this paper suggests complements to existing services available to domestic violence victims in Mingo County, West Virginia.
Statistical data illustrating the prevalence of domestic violence nationally, compared locally Nearly one in four women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. (Rosser, 2012, p.1) Domestic violence accounts for twenty-two percent of the violent crimes experienced by women in the United States. (Rosser, 2012, p.1) Approximately thirty-seven percent of women seeking injury related treatment in emergency rooms were there due to injuries inflicted by a current or former spouse or domestic partner. (Rosser, 2012, p.1) Domestic violence is more than three times as likely to occur when couples are experiencing high levels of financial strain. (Rosser, 2012, p.1) Domestic violence service providers cited lack of funding as the number one reason they were unable to serve victims. (Rosser, 2012, p.1) West Virginia is no exception to the national findings mentioned above. Three of four domestic violence victims in West Virginia are women. (Lester, 2007, p.5) While domestic violence victims comprise eleven percent of the victims to the violent crimes of murder, negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, domestic violence victims make up eighty-nine percent of the total number of victims for all other violent crimes in West Virginia: e.g. kidnapping, assault, forcible sodomy, and statutory rape.
(Lester, 2007, pp.11-12) Mingo County is in the southern region of the state. Dividing the state geographically, domestic violence is more prevalent in southern West Virginia than in its northern region. The vast majority of counties with the lowest domestic violence rates are in the northern region. (Lester, 2007, p.6) Generally, not only are female domestic violence victims more likely to experience harm by an intimate partner overall but, also, the victim rates by an intimate partner are also higher in the state’s southern region. (Lester, 2007, p.7) According to a recent study, seventy-one percent of West Virginia’s total number of victims by an intimate partner was in the southern region. (Lester, 2007, p.8)
State, county and community response to domestic violence The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (hereinafter the “Coalition”) is the only statewide network of domestic violence service providers and experts, providing specialized direct services for families, training, education, and policy development. (wvcadv.org) The Coalition is a non-profit organization comprised of a board of directors, a statewide office and fourteen licensed member programs. (wvcadv.org) Each member program of the Coalition meets statutory criteria: “Program for victims of domestic violence”